9.16.2008

Unforgettable Christmas Programs—Just Add Families!

By Julie Horner

1. Keep it simple
Because the holidays are so busy, parents really appreciate programs that don’t take a lot of extra time. That’s why programs like Double Take! by Dennis Hartin are a great choice. Written in three acts with only a few actors appearing in more than one scene means the three sections can practice separately or simultaneously.

Choosing to focus on sharing the message more than producing a perfect performance can ease the stress too. Even the most practiced young (and old!) actors can freeze during the show, so I often hide lines in scrolls and other props. Letting kids sing along to recorded songs rather than background tracks takes the stress out of remembering all the words when staring at an audience-filled room. Plus I always remind the audience that kids are trying out new talents and ministry, not presenting apolished performance.

Probably the easiest WOW is Handbells. A guaranteed crowd pleaser, these simple instruments require just a little practice for the note card-flipping conductor and only a run through or two for the kids. I’ve had success with two year olds (paired with an older partner) as well as letting the kids choose a partner straight out of the audience, which is a great and unexpected way to get families involved. To learn more about Handbells, click here.

2. Involve “kids” of all ages
Stretching the cast to include more than kids makes the program great for families. This year with Double Take!, I’ll invite two talented teens and their families to lead the Matthew and Luke perspectives. As they reach out and include their parents and grandparents as well as their friends, the Christmas program will make a fun holiday memoryfor everyone.

Last year I divided the Christmas program into three scenes (Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Wisemen). Two scenes were led by kids and their families, and they had a great time interpreting the story in creative ways. The shepherd scene was coordinated by the youth pastor and presented by the youth group. I’m still not sure how Michael the archangel morphed into a moon walking rock star, but it definitely made the program unforgettable for everyone!

3. Add an unforgettable element
The moon-walking angel might be hard to top, but I enjoy the challenge of keeping the audience guessing. Jeopardy-playing wisemen and telling the story backwards are a few ways Hartin has spiced up the story in previous programs. Singing YMCA rewritten as Worship the K-I-N-G surprised the audience another year. An unexpected benefit of mixing in modern elements is how it pleasantly surprises the non-churched family members who attend the performance. And that leads to the most important unforgettable part of all—the salvation message. Because the actors often invite friends and family members, I always weave in the purpose of Jesus’ birth somewhere. Closing with hints of the Easter story or adding a simple invitation for salvation are the best ways of all to retell the most life-changing story in an unforgettable way.

©2008 by Gospel Publishing House. All rights reserved. Permission to duplicate for local church use only.

2 comments:

Stephanie said...

I would love to know where to find the lyrics for the K I N G song. Can you please point me towards a website that might provide them. Or possibly even post them.
Thank you

Gospel Publishing House said...

Hi Stephanie -

I looked around for the K I N G song you referred to, but I can't seem to find that song or the product it comes with. Can you help me out?

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